Jenna Krehbiel of Salina said she was attending the Isis Shrine Circus with her family Saturday at the Salina Bicentennial Centennial Center when she decided to take a bathroom break and found herself face to face with a tiger, the Salina Journal reported Tuesday.
"I went in to use the bathroom, and a lady came in to get her daughter out and said there was a tiger loose," Krehbiel said. "I didn't know it was in the bathroom, and I walked in the [open] door, which closed right after I had walked in. I saw the tiger; it was at most 2 feet in front of me, and I turned around calmly and walked back toward the door. Someone opened the door and said get out."
Krehbiel estimated the tiger was more than 250 pounds.
"It was the closest I have ever been to a tiger not in a cage," Krehbiel said. "You don't expect to go in a bathroom door, have it shut behind you and see a tiger walking toward you."
She said her training as a social worker helped her keep calm.
"I'm always on alert, and it was easy to walk out; that's how I am trained," Krehbiel said. "Looking back, it was a scary ordeal. At the time, I was thinking I just needed to get out."
Chris Bird, manager at the Bicentennial Center, said the tiger escaped during the circus performance and a security guard barricaded the women's bathroom when the tiger went in the door. Krehbiel went into the bathroom through a different door.
"I am sure she saw the tiger because the bathroom is only 25 feet long," Bird said. "Once she saw the tiger, I'm sure she knew to go the other way. Overall, it was a scary, surreal moment. I am glad no one was hurt or injured."